Age of Disruptors: The Changing Landscape of Africa’s International Relations

Dr. Pedro Seabra
Panel Code
Open Panel

This panel invites contributions that highlight key disruptions in the changing landscape of Africa’s international relations as led by so-called rising powers. Often framed under the mantle of reenergized South-South cooperation ties or under a supposedly unstoppable emergence of new poles of power in the world system, the roaster of external actors invested in African dynamics has nonetheless expanded considerably in recent years. Faced with increased possibilities, African states have actively bargained in order to avoid falling down the same experiences of the past. But even though there is increasing consensus over what these countries want, research threads have yet to account for the disruption they also bring to the table while pursuing their own agendas. This can be best explored on two interrelated levels: (1) when claiming to provide normative or material alternatives, thus forcing a corresponding reaction by previously established competitors, and (2) when falling short of achieving their envisioned goals, thus leading to a backtrack on prior commitments to the continent. Taking on this dual approach allows shifting away from more facile narratives on the subject and zoom in on the disruptor-like traits of these countries. What structural adjustments have such inroads incited on the overall international engagement with Africa? And what fragilities underpin the recent retraction exhibited by some of these same newcomers? Papers in this panel will concentrate on, but not be limited to, the country-cases experiences of Brazil, China, India, and Turkey, whether bilaterally or multilaterally, which aim to change the status quo of Africa’s external contemporary options.